Retail Data News: Gucci Collaborates with Xbox, Arby’s Introduces Fry-Flavored Vodka

Retail Data News: Gucci Collaborates with Xbox, Arby’s Introduces Fry-Flavored Vodka

Retail Data News: Gucci Collaborates with Xbox, Arby’s Introduces Fry-Flavored Vodka

Hello Retail Data News readers! This is the last newsletter before we enter what promises to be a very interesting holiday season. This week’s articles, dated November 15 to November 21, include Gucci’s collab with Xbox, Arby’s fry-flavored vodka, and third-quarter earnings from Target, Walmart, and several direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands.

If you love retail, DTC, data-intensive marketing, and consumer trends, this blog series is for you!

Interesting Collaborations & Partnerships to Watch

Gucci Collaborates with Xbox

Gucci is branding a limited edition Xbox. Interesting idea, different from others. Luxury brands are definitely partnering with gaming platforms (mostly online) in various ways. I assume this is a long-term plan to engage younger generations with luxury brands. I would be thrilled to find out how Gucci and Xbox plan to measure success from this over the long term. Read the story.

Arby’s Crinkle and Curly Fries Sprout Inspiration for Limited-Edition Vodka

Arby’s is launching (and serving) its own fry-flavored vodka. The flavors: Curly Fry Vodka and Crinkle Fry Vodka. The fast-food company has also partnered with a celebrity chef and Iron Chef winner for unique bloody mary recipes. Ok, I get it, it’s a marketing ploy to build hype and draw attention, which hopefully translates to orders (food and vodka preferably). And it’s a good twist. But for me, no, no, no and absolutely no way am I going for this. This is as bad as the apple pie Baileys and smoke-scented tracksuits! Read the story.

Starbucks Opens Cashierless Shop with Amazon Go

Starbucks moves into the cashierless trend with Amazon. Using Amazon Go’s technology, Starbucks opened a test store with no cashiers. In addition, there is an Amazon Go market with NY “favorites” as well as the standard Starbucks menu. More importantly, you need to use the Starbucks’s app to get coffee and Amazon Prime to buy from the Amazon market. This means both companies are increasing their first-party data capture. Read the story.

Circle K Gets in the Game With Pokémon GO

Circle K is adding its locations as stops in Pokemon Go. I forgot the game was still around (as is the app on my phone). Overall, it can’t hurt Circle K from a marketing perspective (we don’t know what—if anything—this costs Circle K), so why not?! Read the story.

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Drizly Teams with 7-Eleven to Offer On-Demand Alcohol Delivery from Over 1,200 Stores

7-Eleven is partnering with Drizly to deliver alcohol from 1,200 7-Elevens in under 60 minutes. Drizly is owned by Uber, which already has a partnership with 7-Eleven through Uber Eats. I think this helps both companies, though I guesstimate 7-Eleven is the bigger beneficiary as it can further leverage its store fleet in different ways. Read the story.

Direct-to-Consumer News

Away Names Its First Operations and Digital Chiefs

Away’s new CEO is trying to position the company for a post-pandemic world with a number of C-level hires. The company took Casper’s COO, the chief digital officer from J Crew, and it hired a CMO. Away needs to make a lot of right moves to capture the boost in post-pandemic travel. I am curious what the size of the travel industry will be when the dust settles. I expect things like vacation travel and travel by necessity will mostly recover. Hard to expect business travel to return to pre-pandemic levels. Read the story.

Casper to Be Acquired by Private Equity Firm, CEO Steps Down

Casper is going private, two years after going public. Casper has been on a spending spree, mostly marketing. In addition, it has signed several partnerships. But it has yet to show a profit. The deal has a near doubling of the current share price but far from its opening price ($6.90 vs $3.55 vs $13.50). The CEO is stepping down as expected, and the chief commercial officer, formerly the CEO of Beauty Brands, is stepping in as Casper’s new CEO. Read the story.

Canada Goose’s First Footwear Collection Goes Live

Canada Goose is launching its footwear collection, following strong quarterly results. The company is poised to expand its portfolio even further, considering its C-level suite expansion. Read the story.

Third-Quarter Earnings & Sales News

Walmart Tops Earnings Estimates, Wins Back Grocery Shoppers as Inflation Heats Up

Walmart posts third-quarter results, showing steady growth for the quarter. Store volume is up 9% on a comp basis, which I expected to be higher considering last year this was in the middle of the pandemic. Ecommerce growth is high, as expected. Earnings per share (EPS) is down to last year, however that’s due to an extinguishment of $2.4 billion in debt. According to the company, it is ready for the holidays with good pricing and product and resolved supply chain issues. We will all know soon enough if that is the case. Read the story.

Target Corporation Reports Third Quarter Earnings

Target posts third-quarter results. Target’s same-store sales are higher than Walmart at 12.7%, albeit at a much lower base. Target claims its comp growth was driven by traffic and it will absorb some of the price increases. It is also spending a lot more time discussing its partnerships, especially with Apple and Disney which should give Target an advantage. We’ll see if Walmart’s partnership with Netflix will give it an extra boost too. Read the story.

How E-commerce Retailers Stacked Up in Q3

High level summary of third-quarter results for several DTC brands, including Etsy, On, Wayfair, Qurate, The RealReal, ThredUp, Poshmark, AKA Brands, Purple, OlaPlex, Hims & Hers, Bark, Digital Brands Group, Warby Parker, Brilliant Earth, Casper. No major surprises here. Resale is booming (and losing money), home-targeted DTC saw a drop in sales following a stellar last year. Read the story.

Retail Sales Rise Faster Than Expected in October Even as Inflation Pushes Prices Higher

The official October retail sales are in, up 1.7%, driven by price increases (at 0.9%). Year over year, October was up 16% (6.2% increase in consumer price index). Overall message: prices are up and consumers are still shopping. However, price changes affect consumer decisions not just whether to buy or not but also where and when to buy. Companies that are positioned not to pass the higher prices to the consumer will benefit—see Walmart and Target above. Read the story.

Foot Locker Names COO as Sales Grow 13% Over 2019

Foot Locker posts soft growth for the quarter. Operating income improved driven by more full-price selling. This is a good article summarizing Foot Locker’s initiatives from acquisition to owned brands. The comments at the end from the company regarding its owned brands being “complementary” to the current brands seems like an appeasement to the big athletic brands (i.e. Nike). Read the story.

Petco Health + Wellness Company, Inc. Announces Record Revenue and Earnings with 15% Comp Growth and a 32% Two-year Comp

Petco posts third-quarter results, up 15% in revenues at $1.4 billion. It is running on six quarters of double-digit growth, essentially riding the pandemic increase in pet ownership (same as its competitors). It’s been well reported the pet industry has boomed during the pandemic. The more interesting question is how market share is changing among the players (especially between PetSmart, Petco and Chewy) and how much the sector has evolved to smaller brands, subscriptions, etc. I expect to see post-holiday analysis of this sector. Read the story.

Chinese Retailers Under Pressure: Weak Quarter for Alibaba and JD

Worrying signs out of the Chinese market, according to RetailDetail, including slower growth for Alibaba and JD as well as new coronavirus outbreaks. The silver lining is international growth for the big players. I tend to agree these data points indicate concerning trends, however, I am not sure of the extent. The big players in the Chinese DTC market have become so large that they can not possibly hope to maintain the levels of growth they’ve been experiencing. Same as the buzz surrounding the 11/11 events. Over time, it will lose its newness and shine and become an expected event. As always, time will tell. Read the story.

Key Takeaways from This Year’s 11.11 Shopping Festival

Full hindsight of 11/11. A lot of articles are analyzing results and trends of this year’s 11/11. This one is more succinct. Overall, around $85 billion in sales, with softer overall growth as mentioned in last week’s newsletter. Themes that coalesced around the event include sustainability, experiential retailing (also known as entertailing or shoppertainment), supply chain with a focus on last mile, promotions and the event losing some of its shine and uniqueness. One interesting trend in the article is the platform diversification with Douyin and JD boosting market share apparently at the expense of Tmall. Read the story.

Retail News & Research

Adobe: Shoppers Have Seen Over 2 Billion Out-of-Stock Messages Online

Trends report from Adobe for October 2021. As expected, out-of-stock messages are dramatically higher than last year (up 250%). What is more concerning is that it’s up 325% compared to 2019. Worth noting, the data is from Adobe Analytics, which tends to be more common in larger retailers and DTC brands. Which could potentially indicate that small and midsize brands may be facing even higher out-of-stock messages. Promotions are lower than last year, which is expected. I expect promotions to begin increasing as we get closer to the critical cyber week, especially if there are more out-of-stock messages. Read the story.

What’s the Right Customer Experience for Your Brand?

Good article from HBR from July 2021. It touches on a critical strategic question of customer experience. Should it be memorable or frictionless? As expected, it comes with a 2×2 matrix and concludes there is no one answer. Instead, the decision on how to build and develop the customer experience on this continuum is determined by the brand identity. There are two areas, though, that the article does not mention. First, frictionless is becoming table stakes. Brands that only focus on frictionless may end up losing market share to competitors who are more dominant in earlier stages of the customer journey. Voice commerce and owned content are good examples of that, exemplified by Amazon, Disney and the more recent efforts of Netflix. Second, the two metrics may not be a counterweight to each other, especially with the technological improvements we are experiencing. Brands may not need to decide where they are on this continuum when there is potential to do both well. Read the story.

The Value of Getting Personalization Right—or Wrong—Is Multiplying

Mckinsey article on personalization. Good insights on the value of personalization, the types of personalization consumers expect, how personalization impact varies by proximity to the end consumer. More importantly, the article covers skills that companies with strong personalization functionalities have in common. This includes: 1.) leaning into data and analytics to identify opportunities (otherwise known as customer data mining or data exploration); 2.) rapid activation capabilities (i.e. machine learning in real time triggering contacts); 3.) investment in fit-for-purpose martech and data; 4.) agile operating model; 5.) investment in talent and training. Read the story.

5 Resale Platforms in Asia Pacific to Know Right Now

Good article on the biggest resale platforms in Asia. The article includes a quick snapshot of the key players—Idle Fish, Carousell, Brand Off, Blue Spinach, and Vestiaire Collective. It appears the market is getting crowded in Asia as the sector continues to grow, especially with post-Gen X generations. Read the story.

Macy’s Announces Plans to Launch Curated Digital Marketplace

Macy’s is planning to open up a marketplace for third-party brands to sell on its sites. Not expected until next year, this will be an attempt to grow its ecomm business (which may potentially be spun off if the pressure from activist investors continues). Not sure how much net effect it will have, though. There are already much larger marketplaces (including Amazon’s) that can help third-party brands. The big question for Macy’s is what can it offer the brands to attract them to the marketplace? That remains to be seen as the platform won’t go live until mid-2022. Read the story.

CVS Is Closing 900 Stores

CVS is closing 900 stores (out of 10,000). The changes happening at CVS are too many and happen too fast for me to keep track. It is evolving its loyalty program, expanding analytics capabilities and upgrading its systems and data collection capabilities. This is the latest in its efforts to gain a foundation in what will be a new post-pandemic world. A lot of its efforts are in the right direction, though it has a way to go. Read the story.

Food and Beverage News

Burger King Parent to Buy Firehouse Subs for $1 Billion

Restaurants Brands International (owner of Burger King, Popeye and Tim Horton) is buying 1,200-door Firehouse Subs. Most of the doors are franchised, and the company will still be led by its own management team for now. RBI needs to increase its roster as competition is increasing both from new and established players. This seems to be a good acquisition for RBI, supplementing the portfolio and bringing another loyalty program in the fold. Read the story.

Colruyt Now also Delists Mondelez

Colruyt, a Belgian conglomerate with most of its retail operations in Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, is in a power struggle with some of its brand manufacturers. The recent spat is with Mondelez (following another one with Ferrero) focusing on increased prices and who will affect the bottom line across the supply chain. Apparently, this is a commonly used tactic by Colruyt. The timing right before holidays, I am sure, was carefully selected. However, Colruyt’s geographic reach may not be big enough for the brands to acquiesce that easily (on the other hand, the cost impact might be small enough that it is easier for the brands to just agree). Interesting development in the supply chain saga. Read the story.

Quiznos Takes One Small Step into the NFT Galaxy with the November 15th Launch of “Out of This World” Sandwich Tokens via

Quiznos is entering the NFT trend, following in the footsteps of many other fast-food chains. Several fast-food chains have launched NFT along with efforts to expand their loyalty programs. What is interesting here is Quiznos is doing a one-day only event and proceeds will go to charity. Read the story.

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Nick Antoniades
Nick Antoniades
Nick Antoniades was the Industry Principal for Retail at Treasure Data and is currently VP, Marketing Reactivations at HelloFresh. Nick has over 20 years’ experience driving growth in the digital and retail sectors for enterprise brands like Bed Bath and Beyond, Vitamin Shoppe, and New York & Company. Nick has a proven track record in shaping strategy and optimizing user experience with expertise in digital and omnichannel lifecycle customer journey, CRM, marketing strategy and optimization, ecommerce operations, analytics, and customer loyalty. Additionally, Nick brings in-depth operational knowledge across marketing channels including SEM, email, SMS, affiliate, retargeting, and direct mail as well as optimization methodologies, such as A/B testing and personalization.
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